Around 1825 a fire broke out at a mine that became known as the Sauchie Fire Mine.

For more than three decades, it continued to burn, destroying coal worth £100,000 over 26 acres. This became known as the burning waste of Clackmannan.

After five years of hard labour to construct a giant wall to contain it, this was finally completed around 1831 at a cost of £16,000. During its construction between six and eight miners lost their lives, either by coal falling on them or from being burned by flames that breached holes in the wall as it was being built.

On several occasions the fire was strong enough that it threatened to breach the wall and burn the coal seams, but the wall managed to contain it. Otherwise, it would have been disastrous for the coal mining industry in Clackmannanshire.

In 1850 the wall, and the continuing fire, were inspected by 57-year-old Goldsworthy Gurney, a noted surgeon, chemist and inventor, James Mather, and Ralph Darlington, who believed the fire was now in a stable condition and small enough that it could be extinguished. Gurney and Mather undertook the work.

The pit, which belonged to William Murray, the 4th Earl of Mansfield, was situated at Pitfairn, just north of Sauchie, and in order to tackle the blaze, it was decided that by pouring in carbonic acid gas would reduce the size of the fire.

This had been used before to extinguish combustion but was also known to be a danger to life. Precautions were taken to ensure against this.

An old shaft which lay next to it was re-opened and a fire lamp was suspended in it. The foul air was draughted away, making it safer for the miners.

One evening the wooden cradling caught fire and burned for days. Water was pumped down to the men fighting the fire, but initially it had little effect. It was also feared the adjoining coal seam would ignite. In their efforts to extinguish the old fire, a new fire had started.

Both fires were relatively small, but it took days to get control of the new fire. Both were finally brought under control thanks to Gurney by forcing the cokedamp into the mine via a steam jet for three weeks, then pouring water into it to bring down the temperature.

In September Mather returned as the temperature in the mine had risen so more carbonic acid gas forced into the mine and regular checks were made after this.